Former refugee turned monsignor will advise bishops of diocese

Msgr. Peter Dai Bui, pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in Tempe, took on an additional role as theological consultant to the bishops of Phoenix, largely after his time serving in Rome. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

Msgr. Peter Dai Bui, who became pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in December after serving five years in the Roman Curia, has been appointed Theological Consultant to the Bishops for the Diocese of Phoenix.

In a letter to diocesan personnel, Fr. Fred Adamson, vicar general, said Msgr. Bui will “collaborate and advise the bishops and key members of the Curia on pertinent matters of theology, doctrine and pastoral practice.”

Msgr. Peter Bui and Fr. John Parks make their oath of fidelity to Church teachings while Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted looks on during Mass at the Diocesan Pastoral Center Feb. 3. (Maria Beteran/CATHOLIC SUN)

“It’s mainly to support the Diocese of Phoenix in its mission and the bishops in their ministry,” Msgr. Bui said. “It’s more direct collaboration with the bishops and then advising them on matters of theology, doctrine and pastoral practice.”

Essentially, the work will entail advising the bishops on issues that need greater clarification. “We live in a society where, because of the culture we live in, there has been so much misleading information,” Msgr. Bui said.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted said that Msgr. Bui’s “solid personal formation in philosophy and theology,” along with his “broad and deep understanding of the Church’s work of justice and charity throughout the world” were two key factors in his appointment. He also cited Msgr. Bui’s fluency in several languages — Spanish, German, Italian, English and Vietnamese — and understanding of many cultures and traditions, many of which are increasingly present in the Phoenix Diocese.

Msgr. Bui studied philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome. Born in Vietnam, he grew up as one of 12 children and said his parents instilled strong Catholic values in him at an early age. When he was 5, the family was among the tens of thousands of “boat people” who escaped Vietnam.

“One of the distinct memories I have is that we prayed the Rosary when we waited for my dad’s boat to come by to pick us up,” Msgr. Bui said. They spent three days on the open sea, facing machine-gun-toting pirates and other perils.

A scaled model of St. Peter’s Square is seen in the Diocesan Pastoral Center Feb. 3, the same day Msgr. Peter Dai Bui, who once served in Rome, took an oath of fidelity as the newly instated theological consultant to the bishops of Phoenix. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

While in Rome, Msgr. Bui served as an official of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which leads charitable, humanitarian and disaster-relief efforts for the Church. It was in this role that he received the title of “Monsignor” in 2015. “When you work in Rome, you have a bird’s eye view of the Church, how it’s organized and the richness of it. So many diverse backgrounds and cultures united under one faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,” Msgr. Bui said. He traveled the world and represented Cor Unum at an annual meeting in Bangkok.

“My first words in my speech to them were, ‘Look at these refugees that you work with. I was once one of them.’” He told them the story about being a 5-year old refugee, arriving in Bangkok and being assisted. Those who helped him had no idea the little boy would grow up to become a priest and one day return to help them.

Now he has returned to Phoenix, to advise the bishops and help shed light on the teachings of the Church. “We are delighted to have him back in the Diocese of Phoenix. He brings with him a broad and deep understanding of the Church’s work of justice and charity throughout the world,” Bishop Olmsted said.

Msgr. Bui was ordained in 2003 and has served at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Queen Creek, Christ the King Parish in Mesa and Resurrection Parish in Tempe.